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Dublin: 10°C Thursday 22 October 2020
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'We're going past Ballybough and Summerhill, his nanny’s house is decked out in all the Ireland stuff'

Jack Byrne praised room-mate and friend, Troy Parrott, after the Spurs youngster made his international debut last night.

Troy Parrott and Jack Byrne grew up around the same area in Dublin and both made their full Ireland debuts last night.
Troy Parrott and Jack Byrne grew up around the same area in Dublin and both made their full Ireland debuts last night.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

JACK BYRNE PAID tribute to Tottenham starlet Troy Parrott after the youngster made his Ireland debut against New Zealand last night.

The pair are friendly, having grown up around the same area in Dublin. Parrott is from Buckingham Street, while Byrne lives nearby in Ballybough.

While Parrott got a senior debut, it was similarly a momentous evening for the Shamrock Rovers star, who lined out for his first start at international level, having impressed off the bench in the friendly with Bulgaria last September.

Byrne, who at 23 is six years older than Parrott, has been helping the youngster settle into the squad, with the pair rooming together.

“It’s been brilliant. Even just driving in to the ground, we’re going past Ballybough and Summerhill and his nanny’s house is decked out in all the Ireland stuff.

“It’s just good, it’s good to have somebody from the same area and hopefully we’re doing the people there proud.

“Even just being in the stadium and seeing familiar faces that you might not have seen in a while coming out and supporting you tonight, it’s a nice feeling.”

Representing Ireland would be a daunting prospect for most 17-year-olds, but Parrott acquitted himself well, with Mick McCarthy praising him afterwards. Byrne, too, was impressed by the teenage striker.

“He’s obviously at Tottenham for a reason, he’s a top young talent. He’s 17 years of age and he’s just made his debut for Ireland — and tonight, I thought he was brilliant. 

“He’s a top striker for his age in the world, probably. He’s at Tottenham and he’s doing really well and I think you can see why tonight.

“I’m obviously good friends with Troy, so I was trying to get him a goal and sometimes forcing it a little bit.

“But I enjoyed it, I thought it was a good game.”

Byrne has spoken at length in the past about how much it means to him to represent Ireland and last night was another significant milestone.

“It was an unbelievable feeling to just be out on the pitch with the anthems going off and standing there, and starting a game for your country is an unbelievable feeling and one that I’ll remember it for a long time.

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“I was enjoying it, I was just trying to get on the ball and trying to make things happen and look, I’m happy with how it went.

[The management were] encouraging me to go out and play with freedom and express myself, and I feel as if I have his backing to go out there and do that when I go out on the pitch, and that’s what I tried to do.

“I only know one way to play, just trying to get on the ball and make things happen and I tried to do that tonight. Sometimes it came off, sometimes it didn’t, but that’s what I tried to do. That’s what I’ll always do.

“It’s obviously a high level and it’s only my second game, so I’m still trying to get used to it and get up to the speed, but I’m working hard and hopefully I can do that.”

Byrne’s intelligent passing and movement brought an energy to Ireland’s play that is sometimes conspicuously absent.

His tendency to regularly try difficult passes makes him stand out when others are sometimes all too easily willing to settle for a safe, sideways ball.

Whether he did enough though to put himself in contention to figure on Monday against Denmark is uncertain though.

“It’s not my decision, it’s up to the manager,” Byrne says. “He’s going to pick a team to go out there and do a job in one of the biggest games in recent Irish footballing history.

“Look, whatever team he picks, we’ll all be behind it.

 We’re all looking forward to it. It’s a massive game and I’m sure it’s going to be a packed-out Aviva, and I’d fancy any Irish team in a cup final.

“I’d try to slot in to the best of my ability if I was called upon. I definitely wouldn’t say no.

“I feel like I’m in a good place. I’m working hard and I’m getting a bit of luck at the moment, and long may it continue.”

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Paul Fennessy

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